Tag Archives: WWLA

West Coast (OK, mostly California) Comic Cons: Comikaze, Long Beach, WonderCon & Wizard World

A quick round-up of West Coast (well, mostly Southern California) convention news:

Downtown LA and Convention Center

Fall 2012 in LA: Comikaze & Long Beach

First off, Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo is this weekend in Los Angeles. Flash co-writer Brian Buccellato will be there, and has posted his schedule on his site. It’s a something-for-everyone pop culture con, and while I enjoyed last year’s event, I’m going to be too busy this weekend to make it.

Secondly, Long Beach Comic & Horror Con is coming up the first weekend in November. This is a good comic-focused convention (despite the addition of “and Horror” to the name last year), and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Los Angeles area who wants to attend a show that’s really about comic books.

Update: I totally forgot that Las Vegas Comic Expo is coming up at the end of the month (September 29-30). Brian Buccellato is on the guest list there as well. It’s been a while since someone tried to do a big comic convention in Vegas, so it’ll be interesting to see how this goes.

Captain America, Bucky and USO Girl at WonderCon 2012

WonderCon in 2013

WonderCon is going to be a bit weird. Usually it’s held in San Francisco, but renovations at the Moscone Center this year caused them to move to Anaheim. Scheduling problems mean that they’ll stay in Anaheim next year next year, but might also return to San Francisco. They have solid dates in Anaheim for March 29-31, 2013, and a very tentative “maybe” for fall in San Francisco, but they’re reaching the point that if they’re going to do a con in March, they have to commit to it.

Why not try another location in the Bay Area, like Oakland or San Jose? The Beat looks at various convention centers and compares them to the space WonderCon typically uses these days. The options aren’t that great unless you leave town, shrink the show, or hold out for Moscone.

The convention is on for Anaheim in March, one way or another. If they can get San Francisco in fall, they’re planning to do that too, and make that one WonderCon, at which point they’ll call the Anaheim convention something else.

Clear as crystal, right?

I’m looking forward to the Anaheim con, whatever it ends up being called. This year was great, except for parking. Though I wouldn’t mind an excuse to return to San Francisco, either, and IMO it’s best if WonderCon does return to its Bay Area roots.

A wizard at Wizard World LA in 2008.

Wizard Goes West in 2013

Finally, Wizard World returns to the west coast next year (this year, I think the furthest west they got was Texas), but not to the Los Angeles area. Instead, they’re opening shop in Portland on February 22-24, 2013. Wizard has a long, troubled history with the Los Angeles area. They launched Wizard World Los Angeles in Long Beach early last decade, moved it to Los Angeles after a couple of years, and then abruptly canceled 2009’s con with only a few weeks’ notice. After a year’s absence, Wizard came back, launching Anaheim Comic Con in 2010. That only ran two years, and while they announced WWLA for 2011, that con was canceled before it happened – again with only a few weeks’ notice.

Frankly, it’s probably just as well. I don’t think Wizard World has ever run a show in the Pacific Northwest before, and Southern California has been burned enough times that I can imagine people would be a bit shy of booking hotels and transportation. And as you can see above, the convention scene has changed a lot since the days when WWLA was the only mid-sized con around, and you had to either go to a tiny con or drive three hours to San Diego.

It’s a bit close to Emerald City Comicon (the following weekend in Seattle), but I suspect the audience for Wizard’s current style of show is different enough that they won’t interfere too badly.

WonderCon in Anaheim for 2012 (and more Wizard Weirdness)

Convention CurvesI learned from The Beat that, due to remodeling at Moscone Center, WonderCon, the smaller sibling of Comic-Con International, will be moving from San Francisco to Anaheim for March 16-18, 2012. I’m of mixed feelings about this.

I’ve gone to WonderCon for three of the last four years and really enjoyed it. The Comic-Con International people may still be trying to figure out how to handle huge crowds, but they really know how to plan a convention. So the key thing is, I’m glad that it’s happening next year.

WonderCon From AboveThe location is going to really change the experience, though.

I live in the Los Angeles area, so the move to Anaheim is going to make it an in-town convention that I can easily drive to each morning. But I liked the fact that San Francisco was just far enough to go out of town for a weekend without flying, and a good excuse to visit places along the way like San Luis Obispo and Hearst Castle, Monterey and Carmel, or nearby areas like San Jose and Napa Valley. We’ve also got family and friends in the Bay Area, so heading up a few days early makes it into a good combined visit & convention trip.

The character of the city is vastly different, though.

Moscone Center is in the heart of downtown San Francisco. The Anaheim Convention Center is across the street from Disneyland. There’s a lot of stuff to do near Moscone, plus great public transportation. In Anaheim, as I verified last year you’re surrounded by hotels, motels, and restaurants. Not a problem if all you want to do is get out for a bite to eat, but if you want to go farther out, you’re probably going to have to drive. (On the plus side, the roads are flat and wide, and the parking’s a lot cheaper.)

AnaheimAnd then there’s the Hollywood factor. San Francisco is a short commuter flight away. Anaheim is an hour’s drive. WonderCon, at least in the years I’ve gone, has had a strong Hollywood presence, but it hasn’t overshadowed the actual comics the way it has in San Diego. Being so much closer could change the balance (but it doesn’t have to).

Speaking of San Diego, there’s another thing to consider: With demand sky-high for Comic-Con International tickets, Anaheim smack in the middle of Southern California, and WonderCon run by the same people, a lot of con attendees are going to aim for WonderCon as an alternative. Depending on how much of the usual Bay Area crowd decides to take to the road, this could be a more crowded event than usual.

All in all, I’m going to like having WonderCon close by next March, but I hope they’re able to move back to San Francisco for 2013.

The Wizard Factor

One more interesting thing: CCI, Reed Exhibitions, and Wizard actually coordinated this move. Reed moved C2E2 from March to April so it wouldn’t conflict with WonderCon’s new dates, and Wizard “postponed” the April 2012 Anaheim Comic Con. Which is kind of an odd thing to say, since just a few weeks ago, Anaheim dropped off the schedule completely while Wizard’s Los Angeles Comic Con (scheduled for late this month) was “postponed.” Now Anaheim’s back on the website (at least in the “Upcoming cons” list) with the April 2012 dates that the press release says are being changed, and Los Angeles is gone, both from that list and from the drop-down menu.

I’m not sure what Wizard’s trying to do in the LA/OC area, but hey, we’ve got Long Beach Comic Con next month and Comikaze Expo in November, and now WonderCon in March, at least for a year. I think we’ll be fine.

Read more at my other blog:

WWLA Canceled — Sorry, Postponed — Again

The Beat reports that Wizard World has drastically cut their convention schedule. Among the casualties are both of their California shows: After just two years, Anaheim Comic Con is gone, and while Wizard World Los Angeles is still on the list, the late September dates have been replaced with “TBA.”

I’m not surprised to see Anaheim off the schedule. It seemed clear to me that it was intended to replace Los Angeles, not run alongside it, and when they brought back WWLA, the writing was on the wall (this is starting to sound oddly familiar) for the city with greater name recognition. Though considering that Chicago Comic Con has technically been in Rosemont for years and they kept the name, I wonder why they didn’t didn’t start with a name like Wizard World Los Angeles Comic-Con of Anaheim…

I am a little surprised that they canceled a WWLA with just a month’s warning again. (OK, last time they gave two months’ warning.) But then, the LA convention scene was shaping up to be really crowded this fall, between Wizard, Long Beach Comic Con, and the launch of Comikaze. I’m just surprised Wizard actually blinked.

I’d guess one of two things will happen with Wizard World Los Angeles Comic Con (or whatever they’ve calling it these days): Either it’ll be back on the calendar next spring, picking up its old slot now that Anaheim’s out of the way, or (like last time), Wizard will just quietly cancel the show.

Personally, I’m not really impacted by the cancellation. I’d already made up my mind that if I could only make it to one of the fall’s comic conventions, it would be Long Beach, since I’ve really enjoyed the last two years. If I could make it to two, I’d check out Comikaze, since it’s new. Others, including exhibitors and guests, aren’t so lucky: they’ve bought tickets in advance, rented hotel rooms, or otherwise planned trips for the event. [Edit: Robot 6 points out that the LA Convention Center still lists the show. Curiouser and curiouser.]

I have to wonder: After Wizard canceled two Los Angeles shows in a row with minimal notice, will exhibitors and guests be a bit more skittish about committing to the next one?

Southern California Comic Cons – 2011

After last year’s five-con blowout, I’ve backed off a bit from Comic-Cons this year. In 2010 I attended at least one day at WonderCon, Anaheim Comic Con, Long Beach Comic Con, the general sci-fi/fantasy convention Westercon, and a full week of Comic-Con International in San Diego. (Those links go to my writeups and photos.)

This year I missed WonderCon (we weren’t sure about traveling with a baby), Anaheim (I’d rather catch Long Beach), and the one-day Long Beach Comic Expo (a busy month after moving, the new place desperately needed a no-plans weekend for some unpacking).

The second half of the year looks better.

Comic-Con International (July). I’m only going one day this year — new job, new baby and plans to move all conspired to keep things uncertain back at the time that tickets went on sale. So I’ll be a lot more focused on experiencing the day that I have than trying to report from the floor, but I’ll post my usual photos and writeups afterward.

Long Beach Comic Con (October). I’m still kicking myself for missing their April event, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. During its first two years, Long Beach has been a fun regional con focused on the actual comic part of Comic Con, and while I couldn’t make it to WonderCon this year, I really have no excuse to miss this one.

(Wizard World) Los Angeles Comic Con (September). Just announced a month ago. I sort of figure this is a second chance to catch Anaheim in case I change my mind, since Wizard has been really big on standardizing their shows lately. Also, I suspect they’re trying to crowd Long Beach out of the market, which is a big reason for me not to go.

Comikaze Expo (November). I only just heard about this one today, through the press release on Newsarama. It looks like they’re trying to out-Wizard the Wizard cons, judging by the heavy emphasis on TV/movie celebrities in the guest list, and maybe throw in elements of Anime Expo and GenCon to boot. It bothers me that they’re trying to hype it as the first con of its type in LA, ignoring the history of the Wizard cons and nearby conventions that aren’t within the Los Angeles city limits, but are close enough to be considered LA. I might drop in out of curiosity, assuming I’m not conventioned-out from Long Beach the week before.

So, current plans: San Diego and Long Beach. Maybe one of the two LA cons.

Wizard World Los Angeles Is Back – But Why?

I put on my robe and wizard hat.So, Wizard has just announced the return of Wizard World Los Angeles Comic Con in September, stating that they’re filling “a real need for a Fall event that encompasses all the best that pop culture has to offer.”

The thing is, we’ve already got a Wizard con in the area (Anaheim Comic Con, running this weekend), and we’ve already got a fall convention of about the same size (Long Beach Comic Con in October). The three convention centers are all within 30 miles of each other, so they’re going to draw from the same pool of attendees, and the same pool of comics guests. And since Wizard is big on trying to present a uniform experience for all of their cons, we can expect Anaheim and Los Angeles to be basically the same.

I can only think of two reasons for Wizard to add Los Angeles at this time:

  • They’re planning to move back to the more well-known location after moving out to Anaheim last year. Is anyone here at Anaheim right now? Can you tell me whether they’ve announced dates for next year?
  • In keeping with past Wizard convention behavior, they’re trying to muscle out Long Beach for daring to step in and put together a successful convention from scratch (and one that actually focuses on the “Comic” part of “Comic Con”) when Wizard canceled WWLA 2009.

(via Bleeding Cool)

Thoughts on the Anaheim Comic-Con Announcement

Anaheim Comic-Con LogoEver since Wizard canceled Wizard World Los Angeles back in January, just two months before the event, they’ve claimed that the show was not actually canceled, but merely “postponed” (as opposed to WWTX, which was canceled outright). They can probably stop claiming that now that they’ve announced Anaheim Comic-Con, launching April 16-18, 2010.

In the six months since Wizard World canceled half their convention slate, the owners of New York Comic-Con have announced a new Chicago-area show, C2E2, launching next April 16-18 (does that date sound familiar?), and a group of former Wizard staffers have put together Long Beach Comic-Con, starting October 2-4, to take the place of the missing WWLA. Wizard, meanwhile, has renamed Wizard World Chicago as Chicago Comic-Con (its original name before they bought it a decade(?) ago), bought Big Apple Con, and bought Paradise Toronto Con. Or, to be more precise, Gareb Shamus, owner of Wizard, has bought them.

Immediately obvious:

  • Anaheim Comic Con replaces Wizard World Los Angeles on the WW slate.
  • Shamus is downplaying the Wizard World brand name for the convention circuit.
  • Whether intentional or not, Anaheim Comic Con is scheduled to maximize damage to their primary Chicago competitor.

Making some Magic

Wizard.Six months ago it looked like the LA/Orange County area wouldn’t have any big conventions for a while (aside from being 2-3 hours from San Diego). Now there are two. The timing (April) is far enough from both San Diego (July) and Long Beach (October) that it won’t feel like overkill to hit all three. It’s even far enough from WonderCon (usually February or Early March) that it might be worth hitting both.

And I did have fun at WWLA last year and the year before.

And yet… Continue reading